Evangelizing Culture

‘Vita Consecrata’ series part 11 of 12

from Vita Consecrata #96-99

It was the first week in June 1979. Eight months earlier Archbishop Karol Wojtyla was elected to the papacy and became Pope John Paul II. He was now returning to his motherland- Poland, which was still under a communist regime. The Soviet Union controlled the media, the schools and the workforce. It would soon be revealed that they could not control the human heart. In his famous homily in Victory Square in Warsaw, Pope John Paul II spoke from the depths of his heart, to the heart of each man and woman living under the oppression of atheistic communism. “To Poland the Church brought Christ, the key to understanding that great and fundamental reality that is man. For man cannot be fully understood without Christ. Or rather, man is incapable of understanding himself fully without Christ. He cannot understand who he is, nor what his true dignity is, nor what his vocation is, nor what his final end is. He cannot understand any of this without Christ.” As Pope John Paul II continued his homily, the crowd of over one million Poles responded thunderously, “We want God! We want God! We want God!”

From the depths of the innermost places of every human heart is this longing for God. The dictatorship of communism or the dictatorships in our own day – the ‘culture of waste’ as Pope Francis calls it – can try to silence this longing for God, but the Holy Spirit is always at work within man, reminding him of his true identity. This same Holy Spirit that Pope John Paul II called, “The Master of [the Church’s] inner life…who penetrates the innermost depths of every human heart and knows the secret unfolding of history.” #96 VC

Pope John Paul II wrote in Vita Consecrata that “[t]he need to contribute to the promotion of culture and to the dialogue between culture and faith is deeply felt in the Church today… Consecrated persons cannot fail to feel challenged by this pressing need. In their proclamation of the word of God, they too are called to discover the methods most suited to the needs of the different social groups and various professional categories, so that the light of Christ will penetrate all sectors of society and the leaven of salvation will transform society from within, fostering the growth of a culture imbued with Gospel values.” #98 VC

In the final Mass of his visit to Poland on Blonie field, before the largest gathering of humanity in the history of their country, Pope John Paul II extended his arms on the crowd of over 2-3 million people and prayed, “Receive the Holy Spirit! Do not quench the Spirit! Do not grieve the Holy Spirit!” A New Pentecost for Poland and for the world was born. Let us ask the Holy Spirit, who is the master of the inner life, to ‘penetrate the innermost depths of our heart’, so that the light of Christ will shine through us to ‘transform society from within.’

This meditation is part 11 of 12 in our series on Blessed John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata.  You can download a copy of this document from the Vatican’s website: www.vatican.va